— Now, 176 years after the 13-day siege and bloody battle that forever earned its place in history, The Alamo remains under attack. Today's enemies are slow decay due to the passage of time and a public consciousness that views The Alamo as an iconic attraction instead of a shrine to honored dead.
However, the good news is that unlike in 1836, help is actually on the way.
During the 2011 legislative session, HB 3726 transferred The Alamo to the Texas General Land Office (GLO) and mandated that we contract for management and operations with its century-long custodians, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT). After 100 years of sole management at no cost to Texas, the DRT has eagerly accepted our help in updating business operations and improving the visitor experience.
The GLO was chosen for many reasons - the most important of which I believe is the "can do" culture of this agency. From earning billions for Texas schoolchildren from oil and gas revenues to preserving historical documents, restoring Texas beaches, and serving Texas veterans, the GLO makes things happen.
Much must be done at The Alamo. Our top priority is its preservation. Although fighting the 300-year-old building's deterioration is difficult and expensive, we are making progress.
After years of study, The Alamo's roof has now been repaired - an improvement that will protect The Shrine for decades. Also, a conservator is working in The Shrine to assess, clean, and document its interior and exterior walls. Further, the GLO is helping to secure funding for a massive preservation of The Alamo's facade to protect this work of art for future generations.
The Alamo - with the church's trademark "hump" - is one of the most easily recognized buildings in the world. It has been the backdrop for a million photographs and the birthplace of a million dreams.
Yet, the more subtle and difficult fight is to increase public awareness of The Alamo as a true shrine to honored dead instead of merely as an iconic attraction.
As a symbol of sacrifice for freedom, The Alamo is more akin to the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor or the fields of Gettysburg - places where men died for a cause larger than themselves.
Instead, a now former Alamo PR person recently allowed the Alamo to be used as a backdrop for a national TV cooking competition in which Pee Wee Herman remarked that he would always associate The Alamo with "chicken." This is unacceptable.
Together, the General Land Office and Daughters of the Republic of Texas will work to ensure that The Alamo is always portrayed with respect, never diminished in the story of Texas, and remains forever The Shrine of Texas Liberty. As a result, the public perception of The Alamo will shift back to respect and quiet reverence.
Hopefully, many visitors will now heed the small plaque on the door that reads, "Be Silent, Friend, Here Heroes Died To Blaze A Trail For Other Men."
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